Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Writing to Wayne


So, it's a mere five sleeps until Paul, Jon, Joe, Carlos, Gerard and Robert spend the day in combat against sea-sickness in a (probably) rain-drenched boat-sized arena. All to support Wayne in his effort to become the first person EVER to swim from the Mull of Kintyre to Ireland.

There are many, many more enjoyable ways to spend a Sunday, so one must assume that Wayne must be a pretty special specimen to warrant such a substantial gesture of camaraderie. And indeed he is.

In a change from standard practice, I post this entry, not as Wayne's ghost writer/editor, but in my capacity as a friend. This I do because I want to reiterate what a truly remarkable event Sunday is going to be.

I've known Wayne for about 20 years. He even had a full head of hair when I first met him. Whilst his follicle count has diminished over the years, his waistline has expanded, as has his repertoire of skills and interests. In the decades I've known him, I've seen him embrace not only the lovely Bernie (cue an 'aahhh') but also new challenges on all sorts of fronts: projects, hobbies, jobs, countries and an inexplicable relationship with a temperamental Landy. In all this time I never, I repeat NEVER, witnessed Wayne even indicate the slightest interest in physical exertion beyond reaching for the next beer.

It came as some surprise then, to both me and the skipper of the accompanying boat, when Wayne conquered the English Channel not so long ago. Missing the crucial turn of the tide, Wayne hung in there for close on 20 hours in an exemplary demonstration of stamina and endurance and sheer pig-headedness. In that moment when he flopped ashore in France, two things seemed changed: firstly he was several pounds lighter and secondly a burning coal had ignited where his brain used to be. Apparently only a nine hour swim in icy cold, jellyfish infested, tide turbulent waters is going to douse that flame.

Ladies and gentlemen: Wayne. On the face of it, the most unlikely candidate to swim into history's record books. But on closer inspection, a man who's not afraid of a challenge and someone who has shown he has what it takes to see it through. He's done it before many times, in many different contexts. Except maybe golf. Whilst this is probably his biggest challenge, there's no reason to think this will end in anything other than a congratulatory round of drinks in a Ballycastle pub. Wayne, good luck, and may the jellyfish-repulsion-force be with you.

Sesa hantle
Lauren

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Wayne likes pork pies and Guinness. He likes routine and predictability. He loves his family. He's 40+, short(ish), balding and battling with waistline expansion. He's been known to occasionally play a good round of golf, likes to tinker with 'stuff' and has rescued a group of friends from the African wild by fixing a Land Rover with a jellybaby.

He's never been a great fan of physical exertion. In short (apart from the jellybaby incident), Wayne is an ordinary person. And he's about to do something really amazingly, astoundingly and astonishingly extra-ordinary. He's going to swim the the treacherous, never-been-swum-before channel between Kintyre (Scotland) and Ballycastle (Ireland). For charity. This is his story.